When Granny Got on LSD

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Location: Cheverly, Maryland, United States

I'm a geek and musician in the Washington DC-area.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Story of How Granny Got on LSD

The whole extended family was gathered around the Thanksgiving table with delicious crumbs of dessert still on our plates. Minutes earlier we had gone around the table giving thanks, when granny, age 83, sighed happily and declared, “And I’ve been telling all my friends that I’m getting on LSD for Thanksgiving.”

“Mom, you’re getting DSL,” I whispered across the table. “Oh, is it called DSL?” she asked, a touch embarrassed.

My mom’s experience getting on LSD was a trip, so I ought to share some of it here. Mom has an Indigo iMac from circa 2001. She has been using dial-up Internet access since getting her first Mac in 1995. She uses Mac OS 9 and is not about to move to Mac OS X unless absolutely necessary. I support her in that choice.

When she told me she wanted to get onto LSD, I told her she could count on me for support. Living a few hundred miles away, I can only do so much to help. Thankfully she has an outstanding Mac consultant, Andrew Falco, who is only a phone call away. Andrew treats my mom as I would -- gently, patiently and with a lot of listening to what she wants.

My mom opted for Verizon’s $15/month LSD package, which is easily purchased in any dark alley. In New York, Verizon doesn’t support Mac OS 9 with PPPoE (Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet.) That’s okay. I know there are ways of making Verizon LSD work with Mac OS 9. Andrew Falco suggested buying a Linksys Router with PPPoE. That sounded like a fine idea. And it works like a charm.

Since my mom is new to web surfing, I wanted to make sure she has the most modern browser possible on her Mac OS 9 iMac. So during the Christmas vacation, while visiting her,I went to Microsoft’s web page to download Internet Explorer 5.1.7. Microsoft has discontinued support for Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and is even removing it as a download from their web site. It’s clear to me that Microsoft doesn’t care whether my mom is on LSD or not. But I do. So I downloaded and installed IE 5.1.7.

Then it occurred to me that mom ought to have an alternate browser. So I went to the Netscape web site to download Netscape 7.02. Wouldn’t you know it, Netscape has no links on their web site to older browsers. It’s clear to me that Netscape doesn’t care if my mom is on LSD or not. But I do.

So I searched the good god Google for “Netscape Archive,” and found a nice web site with downloads of all older versions of Netscape. I threw an alias of Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and Netscape 7.0.2 in the Apple Menu of mom’s iMac. I told her she now has a choice of browsers, because in life it’s always better to have options available. She concurred, having taught me that lesson about 40 years ago, when I was 5.

Next, I decided to install QuickTime 6.x for Mac OS 9. If you’re on LSD, you really want to have QuickTime 6.x, because Quicktime 5.x is a bummer. So I went to Apple’s QuickTime download page and could find no link to it. It’s clear to me that Apple Computer doesn’t care whether granny is on LSD or not. But I do. So I searched http://www.apple.com/support/downloads/ for QuickTime 6.x for Mac OS and found the download. (QuickTime 6.0.3)

I then ran into a small hitch on another issue -- and figured out a good workaround. My brother regularly posts photos of the grandkids on Shutterfly.com. The links he sends to my mom are not active hyperlinks in AOL 5.0, the highest version of AOL for Mac OS 9. Copying-and-pasting long hyperlinks is not granny’s favorite activity. So I set up a free Yahoo Mail account for her and told my brother to courtesy-copy her Yahoo Mail address when sending her links to family photos.

Mom is now able to easily access family photos via the slideshow in Shutterfly. She tells me that surfing the web is like seeing the world in millions of hues of color. Yes, mom. That’s what getting on LSD is like.

My last task was to switch my mom’s AOL price plan from unlimited dial-up to bring-your-own access. AOL has removed the capability of doing this online in AOL 5.0 for the Mac. So we had to call AOL’s billing department. The happy news is that by bringing her own Internet access she now pays $8.95 per month for her AOL account. Adding that to her $15/month LSD account from Verizon, and the total adds up to the same as what she was paying for AOL dial-up alone. That’s like getting free LSD. Can you dig it? Free LSD.

The next step is to tell all her nieces, nephews and grandkids that granny is on LSD. Knowing that, they’ll be able to send her audio and video clips to support her habit. You know what? She’s going to love that. And all the effort of getting granny on LSD will have been worthwhile.


Phil Shapiro
The author works as a technology access activist -- a branch of civil rights activism. He is reachable at http://www.digitaldivide.net/profile/pshapiro

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